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Missile Combat Example

Darius West

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I am a bit flummoxed by how to manage HQ missile combat.  Could someone maybe talk me through a fight between a party of Yelmalio Phalangites (20 with pikes, 10 with bows) versus a similar number of Sable riders (10 with lances, 20 with bows), assuming everyone's primary skills and their augmenting skills being at about 1W, it being a fine day in Prax, and with the fight being conducted initially with the Sable riders coming up a dry "serpent" bed out of sight of the Yelmalios ?  

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So, the first question to ask is which group contains the heroes, and how many heroes are there?  Why?

1) because everything else can be abstracted as an external event (i.e. GM choice whether any die rolls are needed to even determine what else is happening).

2) because you then need to determine who the heroes are actually interacting with and what else is going on around them.

Let's say you have 4 Yelmalion heroes: 2 with pikes, 2 with bows.  Have them determine what tactics they take (e.g. let's assume pikemen surrounding/guarding archers).

Now assume that the Sable Riders will attack with archers first, save lancers for when foes are whittled down.  You need to roughly determine the ratio of attackers to defenders and use that to determine # of foes per hero.  Let's say the Sable Riders try to take out Yelmalion archers first, while pinning down pikemen.  Make it 1 on 1 for Yelmalion archer heroes, and same for pikemen.  Make it a Hard/High Difficulty (e.g. 20 at the base level).

First round:

Yelmalion archers each try to take out 2 Sable Rider archers.  The goal is clear, whittle down the Sable Rider archers, which will drive them off.  If the Yelmalions fail, they get hurt, which weakens the archer unit.  First attack for each will be 1W vs. 20.  Second attack for each is penalized (-3) so 18 vs. 20.

Yelmalion pikemen try to protect the archers.  Goal is different here:  absorb the arrows in the shields.  If these heroes fail, then an NPC archer is hurt or killed (say that minor defeat = 1 archer hurt; major defeat = 1 archer impaired; complete defeat = 1 archer killed).  As archers are impaired or killed, the number of attacks against the pikemen increase in the next turn.  The attack here is also 1W vs. 20. 

Or, optionally, you could have two lines of pikemen with outer pikemen guarding against lancers and the inner group having a choice to deflect arrows (as above) or offering Assists to reduce points against your Yelmalion archers.

If both your archers fall, then say that the Yelmalion archer unit as a whole fails (e.g. runs out of arrows, etc.), and now up to the pikemen.  Or, if the pikemen fall but the archers going strong, the Sables bring their lancers to bear to try to ride through the archers.  Lots of various permutations possible here.

The important thing, though, is this:  do not play this as 30 vs. 30.  Play it as the heroes vs. X number of foes with their results determining what happens to the rest of the battle. Or alternately, let the players roll for the remaining groups of Yelmalion pikemen and archers as a collective vs. some collective group of Sable Riders where the results either add a one-time situational bonus or penalty for the heroes for the next round.

Others may run differently, but that's generally the approach I would take.

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When I run HeroQuest, Missile Combat is either treated as an augment, as it helps in the general scheme of combat, or is treated as a single event/roll. So, someone shooting an apple off his son's head needs to make a single roll, someone specifically taking out the enemy's chief with an arrow needs to make a single roll, someone shooting arrows into melee just adds the skill as an augment.

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42 minutes ago, soltakss said:

When I run HeroQuest, Missile Combat is either treated as an augment

That's generally the case for me as well, but that's usually because there are only 1 or 2 heroes not engaged in the primary melee action.  If you flip it over such that the majority are missile fighters that's when I'd take the different approach - otherwise augmenting/assisting NPC's is rather dull.

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Okay, so here's a contrived example, as I did with the Heroquest Glorantha examples, I've rolled the dice for real just to see what can happen (reaches for Sun County book).

The players are 4 sable riders, they come down the wadi and turn a bend straight into a Half File of Sun Domers who are trying to ambush them, so thats 8 including a File or Half File leader. As it's an ambush (MGF), the players are caught unaware at a range that they would otherwise not choose to be at. The Sun Domers have a small shield wall of four and another four behind with bow and arrows.

The Templars aim is to capture the group alive so they can answer for their heinous crimes. The usual tactic is to shoot the mounts from beneath them. Then with superior armour and weapons, overwhelm them on foot as only heavy infantry can.

The contest opens with the Templars firing a volley of arrows at the group’s mounts.

The Heroes are asked what they want to do - Avoid the Sun Domers and escape. They don’t want to close due to the spears.

It’s session 7 so the Base is 15. I set the difficulty at high as the group need to realise that the Templars are a big threat, so +6 for a total of 1W. The Sable riders all use their Praxian, Warrior or Herder Keyword as a ride skill, augmenting with spirit magic for a total of 1W.

The Sun Domers get +6 for surprise for 7W, Masteries cancel. Remember the Sun Domers are firing at the Sable rider’s mounts. It's a Simple Group Contest:

Sun Domer 1 vs Sable Rider A

12 of 7 vs 8 of 1 Failure vs Failure, high roll marginal success, +1 Sun Domers.

Sun Domer 2 vs Sable Rider B

13 of 7 vs 1 of 1 Failure vs crit, +3 Sable Riders

Sun Domer 3 vs Sable Rider C

2 of 7 vs 10 of 1 Success vs failure, +2 Sun Domers

Sun Domer 4 vs Sable Rider D

7 of 7 vs 18 of 1 Success vs failure, +2 Sun Domers


Difference Between Results Sun Domers 5 - Sable Riders 3 = 2

Winning Group’s Victory Level = Minor Victory

Negative Consequences For Winner = None

Minor Victory: Your foe takes a significant wound and are impaired.

So at the end of the contest all of the sables have taken a significant wound and are impaired so can’t escape.

The Sun Domers form up into a wall of eight and start to advance. What do the heroes do now? dismounting is the best option or they risk having their mounts killed. Fight, parley or come up with something else quick...

To be continued...

Edited by David Scott
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it's worth re-reading p.110 as the guidance there was taken from experience of folks trying to run missile combat. It's all about getting a statement of intent - what can those opposing missile combat credibly do: try to run away, try to hide under shields, or try to close the distance spring to mind (assuming one-sided). Their initial ability used in the contest will depend on the abilities used against those with missile combat, but in the case of closing I might switch up once I figured the ground had been closed i.e. those whose intent is to close make successes on enough rounds that I think they have covered the distance. At this point, you probably have people drawing swords so it is new contest new resistance.

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35 minutes ago, Ian Cooper said:

It's all about getting a statement of intent - what can those opposing missile combat credibly do: try to run away, try to hide under shields, or try to close the distance spring to mind (assuming one-sided).

That's why I noted that it was important in the initial example to understand who the PC's are and how they intend to fit into the overall picture.  Are they the attackers or defenders?  Are they a mixed group facing mixed targets or is one or the other side of a specific type?  And what is the GM's intent with the opposing force?

The goal is to ensure that the PC's are the key actors, not figures on the sidelines, even if they are part of a larger group.

Edited by jajagappa
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